Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April Meeting Recap - Building Your Consulting Practice Through Word-of-Mouth

One of the things I enjoy about Treasure Valley Consulting Network is the bringing the members and business community at large topics I feel will excite and motivate people into action. When the audience engages the presenter with questions and comments, I know I've done my job.

Last night was no exception as Justin Foster from BlueLine Grassroots Marketing presented Building Your Consulting Practice Through Word-of-Mouth. Most of the presentation centered on the use of blogs in business, especially consulting. While we didn't necessarily get into the finer points of how to generate word-of-mouth marketing, the blog is the starting point to creating this powerful form of marketing for small businesses and consultants.

Justin and the folks at BlueLine have been pounding this message home ever since they started their business three years ago; there has been paradigm shift in the way marketing is conducted. The consumer has more power than ever before and traditional marketing messages will not get through to them. They have put up all barriers to marketing messages, they are demanding value and they are filtering what they see, hear and experience. Justin now believes that the moment has come and marketing is about to change here in the Treasure Valley. The question is, will you be a part of it?

Up until last last year, I used to make fun of anyone with a blog. I thought blogs were for ego-centric people who had an insatiable thirst for attention. Now I see that they are a powerful business tool. They transform the stale, impersonal presentation commonly accomplished through websites, brochures, flyers and business cards and give it a personal edge. The technology now allows folks to engage you in an honest, meaningful conversations and you are able to share your knowledge with the rest of the world - people who are actively seeking out your content, your thoughts and ideas.

Word of mouth marketing starts with the blog. This is where you can create and demonstrate your value to the business community - your customers. If you haven't started yet, it's time to get going. The hardest part is figuring out where to begin or what to write about. The key is to not think so much about it.

When I started blogging for both TVCNet and my business, here's how I approached it:

  • Begin with your audience in mind. It's a trick I learned when I worked as a radio disc jockey years ago. Pretend you are having a conversation with just one person and stick to one thought or one idea at a time.

  • Talk about what excites you and what motivates you. If it doesn't excite or motivate you, it will show in your material.

  • Make it relevant. Tie your topic into something people can relate to in everyday life or perhaps with a current event. Take a cue from good comedy writers. A good joke has an element of truth in it. That is what makes it funny. Good content has something real people can identify with.

I could continue to write about this topic for a long time. I'm just as excited about it as the folks at BlueLine. I'll wrap up by saying that word-of-mouth marketing and new marketing mediums such as blogs, podcasts and forums will continue to evolve and find new purposes in business. The topic and discussions around it will not end, they'll only change especially for consultants who can find a way to leverage this medium.

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